Guests: Ann Sheridan, Jug Twitty, Ken Salazar, Osjha Anderson, Andy Kahan, Mary Ann Jennings, Pat Brown, Bob Riley
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, what were they thinking? We have got more of NBC‘s undercover operation to stop sexual predators. One guy gets caught literally with his pants down. And then he returns the next day. It‘s incredible.
Now, we have got a panel of experts on hand. They are going to tell us what‘s going on and what you can do to protect your kids.
Then, the heads of five top oil companies prepare to go before Congress and answer some tough questions. My question is this: Are their billions in—of dollars in profits a result of price gouging that‘s unfair to you and other working Americans? We are going to get into that one, too.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, no passport required, only common sense allowed.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, thanks a lot for being with me. Greatly appreciate it.
Now, we are going to have those stories in just a minute. Plus, we‘re going to be talking to the governor of Alabama, who today, alongside Natalee Holloway‘s mom, called for Americans to boycott Aruba.
But, first, a shocking report that should be required viewing for all parents.
Now, last night, I showed you part of an incredible “Dateline NBC” investigation of online sex predators. “Dateline” enlisted the help of a group called Perverted Justice that posed as teens in online chat rooms. And then they set up sexual encounters at this house in suburban Washington.
Now, of course, “Dateline” wired that one up with hidden cameras. In a minute, we are going to talk about what you can do to fight back.
And, last night—I‘m telling you, the response was so overwhelming to what we showed last night. We have been talking about this problem for some time. It‘s certainly impacted my home state of Florida and other states across the country. But I guess it really is true that a picture can paint 1,000 words, because this documentary that “Dateline” put together, shocking.
We are going to show you some more of it right now with “Dateline”‘s Chris Hansen.
CHRIS HANSEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meet Vamale 692005. He‘s 28 and thinks he‘s talking to a 14-year-old. He chatted online for more than a week with our decoy and slowly introduced more and more depraved sexual requests. He even says he wants to involve a dog.
DEL HARVEY, PERVERTED JUSTICE: As soon as the guy said, hey, maybe I would want to do this, and he wasn‘t immediately slapped down—it‘s testing the waters.
HANSEN: Was this all talk, or would this man actually walk into our kitchen? That‘s him coming in the door.
(on camera): How you doing?
SERGEANT JOE WUNDALER, U.S. ARMY: How you doing?
HANSEN: Why don‘t you have a seat right on that stool please. What‘s happening?
WUNDALER: Nothing much
HANSEN: What are you here for?
WUNDALER: Just coming to talk to...
HANSEN: Coming to talk to who?
WUNDALER: That‘s it.
HANSEN: Why are you so nervous?
WUNDALER: I just get nervous. I was coming to talk to Erin.
HANSEN: How old is Erin?
WUNDALER: She didn‘t tell me.
HANSEN: Try again.
WUNDALER: I saw 14.
HANSEN: So you thought it was okay to come see a 14-year-old girl?
WUNDALER: No, I didn‘t.
HANSEN: And you say, “Would you ever try anal? “Ouch. That‘s like it could hurt,” she says. “Not if done right. You have to be very gentle with that. “ Quite a Romeo.
WUNDALER: I‘m a lonely guy. What can I say?
Why don‘t you have a seat right on that stool please. What‘s happening?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing much
HANSEN: What are you here for?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just coming to talk to...
HANSEN: Coming to talk to who?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s it.
HANSEN: Why are you so nervous?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just get nervous. I was coming to talk to Erin.
HANSEN: How old is Erin?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She didn‘t tell me.
HANSEN: Try again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw 14.
HANSEN: So you thought it was okay to come see a 14-year-old girl?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I didn‘t.
HANSEN: And you say, “Would you ever try anal? “Ouch. That‘s like it could hurt,” she says. “Not if done right. You have to be very gentle with that. “ Quite a Romeo.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m a lonely guy. What can I say?
HANSEN (voice-over): He‘s more than just a lonely guy. We did a background check on Vamale. And it turns out his real name is Joe Wundaler, an Army sergeant stationed at Fort Belvoir at the intelligence and security command.
WUNDALER: I‘ve never done anything. I‘m trying to get help with it.
HANSEN (on camera): What are you doing to get help?
WUNDALER: Seeing a psychiatrist right now.
HANSEN: Well, it doesn‘t look like it‘s working too well, based upon all this.
WUNDALER: I just started talking to him.
HANSEN: This gets pretty freaky here. You talk about sex acts with a dog.
WUNDALER: It‘s one of the reasons why I‘m trying to get help, because I get into fetishes that I know aren‘t right.
HANSEN: I guess you‘re going to tell me next that this is the very first time you‘ve done something like this.
WUNDALER: Actually, it is. I‘m serious.
HANSEN (voice-over): Here comes “special guy29.”
Earlier online, he told our decoy, who was posing as a 14-year-old-boy, that he is an 11th grade English teacher. Then he told the boy that he hates condoms, but he‘s safe.
Our decoy asks “specialguy29” to bring beer and then throws in a request, a technique often used by law enforcement to illustrate intent. He types: “Side garage is open. Strip to your underwear and come in. I‘ll be in mine.”
The man says “I don‘t wear underwear.” So, the decoy says, “Then come in naked. “
We never thought he‘d really do it. But we were wrong. After casing our house, walking up and down the street, here he comes with the beer and you can guess what he does in the garage.
HANSEN (on camera): Could you explain yourself?
JOHN KENNELLY: I‘m sorry?
HANSEN: Why don‘t you go ahead and cover up?
KENNELLY: Certainly. I‘m sorry.
HANSEN (voice-over): The man‘s name is John Kennelly. He tells me he is 29 and a bus driver. Then he changes it to a teacher.
HANSEN (on camera): What kind of conduct is this for a high school teacher?
KENNELLY: None, sir. I‘ve never done this before.
HANSEN: So, you just woke up this morning and said I‘m going to get involved in a Internet conversation with a 14-year-old boy. I‘m going to go to his house, strip naked, and walk in with a 12-pack of beer?
KENNELLY: Yes, sir.
HANSEN: What would have happened, John, if I wasn‘t here?
KENNELLY: I probably would have chickened out, sir.
HANSEN (voice-over): After doing a deeper background check on him, we found out he‘s neither a teacher, nor a bus driver. His father says he‘s unemployed. And he‘s not 29. He‘s actually 43.
HANSEN (on camera): Do you know that it‘s illegal to have a conversation on the Internet with the intent to have sex with a minor?
KENNELLY: Yes, sir. I do.
HANSEN (voice-over): You might think that a 43-year-old man, who walked into our house naked ready to meet a 14-year old boy for sex, would be so humiliated after being caught literally with his pants down that he‘d never try again. Yet we find him right back online in a chat room the very next day.
(on camera): How can we be certain that this guy in this chat room is the same guy who walked into this house last night naked?
HARVEY: It‘s the same screen name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Same identical screen name he got busted, “specialguy29. “
HARVEY: He‘s changed nothing.
HANSEN (voice-over): He is spotted by a Perverted Justice volunteer who is posing as a 13-year-old boy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just checked the kid‘s pic.
HANSEN: Even these Perverted Justice veterans find what‘s happening hard to believe.
HARVEY: If he keeps talking, then that‘s just going to be beyond comprehension.
HANSEN: Yet, he does keep talking. And, again, the chat quickly turns sexual. And, believe it or not, again, he agrees to yet another date for sex. Our decoy asks if he wants to meet at McDonald‘s.
(on camera): What do you suppose the odds are that a guy like that would agree to another meeting?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would have said zero last night after watching what happened.
HANSEN (voice-over): Well, “specialguy29” defies the odds and agrees to meet, but, first, he confirms the meeting is not about food.
(on camera): He really wanted to make sure it was about sex.
(voice-over): Sure enough, here he comes, headed towards the McDonald‘s.
(on camera): I have been in television for 24 years
KENNELLY: I just came to get something to eat.
HANSEN: And I have very seldom be at a loss for words.
KENNELLY: Sir, I just came to get something to eat.
HANSEN: But I don‘t even know what to ask you first.
KENNELLY: I just came to get something to eat.
HANSEN (voice-over): He later changes his story.
(on camera): Last night, you walked into a home in suburban Washington naked with a 12-pack of beer, yes or no?
HANSEN: Right. Today, you‘re on the Internet again. You have an inappropriate conversation with a boy you think is 13 and you set up a meeting here at this fast-food restaurant. What was your intention?
KENNELLY: I don‘t know.
HANSEN (voice-over): The man admits he knows what he‘s doing is illegal.
(on camera): Then why do you do it?
KENNELLY: Because I need help. And that‘s what I‘m seeing a psychiatrist for.
HANSEN (voice-over): There are different reasons men choose to meet children for sex.
DR. DAVID MARCUS, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Some, and this may be a minority, have a primary attraction to that age group. Others are more looking for a situation where they can feel powerful, where they can, again, explore parts of themselves and try to do things in a situation where there is a power differential.
HANSEN: Whatever power they thought they had, it‘s lost as soon as they see me, and now they‘re about to learn I‘m not a parent or the police.
First, the rabbi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you please show me who—tell me who you are?
HANSEN (on camera): I‘m more than happy to tell you who I am. I‘m Chris Hansen with “Dateline NBC.” And we‘re doing a story on computer predators.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, come on, guy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don‘t want to—you don‘t want to...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have got to stop this.
HANSEN: Sit down. Sit down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don‘t have any right to...
HANSEN: You‘re free to leave any time.
(voice-over): Now they knew this was all being taped on the record and for broadcast on “Dateline.”
(on camera): But if there‘s anything else you want to say?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing.
HANSEN (voice-over): The teacher.
(on camera): And if there‘s anything else you would like to say, we would like to hear it.
(voice-over): And the man who stood naked in our kitchen.
KENNELLY: Thank you. I don‘t have anything else to say.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s unbelievable.
Now, if this report isn‘t shocking enough, get this. According to officials in Virginia, where this investigation took place, none of these menu just saw can be brought up on charges. We have got one of those officials coming up next to tell you why.
But, friends, this is so disturbing. And, again, this is the point you have got to underline. This is what‘s so important. I‘m a parent of three, including a little girl. And it just—it‘s horrifying to me that, in this instance, these predators were caught. These people that were really—they were just—they were hunting for children, trolling the Internet for children.
But I‘m telling you right now, somewhere in America, unfortunately, too many places in America, this is happening. And so many people that you saw in that piece—and, again, a remarkable piece by “Dateline NBC”—so many of those people used their positions of authority around children to exploit the very children that they are supposed to be protecting. You cannot be careful enough in protecting your children, unfortunately, not just from sexual predators, but also from sexual predators who may end up killing not only their spirit, but also their life.
We are going to continue on this. And coming up, the campaign continues. When we go to Washington, we are going to be talking to the heads of big five oil companies who are going to be called before Congress tomorrow to answer some tough questions, one of them having to do with whether they are price gouging. That‘s what I want to know. That‘s what I‘m going to be asking tomorrow, and in a little bit.
And, then, we have been talking about it for weeks, a nationwide boycott of Aruba. That‘s what Natalee Holloway‘s mom appears to want now. And the governor of Alabama is backing a nationwide call to action. We are going to be talking to my friend Governor Bob Riley when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: A nationwide epidemic of sexual predators like the one you‘re watching in this “Dateline” special, it‘s unfortunately all too pervasive. And, unfortunately, our children are the ones who are being targeted.
Coming up next, we will tell you what you can do—when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Alleged Internet sex predators busted in an undercover investigation by “Dateline NBC,” I have never seen anything like it before now.
These dangerous predators are all over the Internet and could be targeting your kids. We certainly know right now, they are targeting children. We have got an all-star panel here to talk about exactly how these criminals operate.
And with me to talk about it, Lynn Keller. She produced the remarkable “Dateline” special we just saw. Also criminal profiler Pat Brown, who has also been in these chat rooms posing as an underage teen—and also Andy Kahan. He‘s with the Houston Crime Victims Unit.
But, first, I want to bring Mary Ann Jennings. She‘s with the Fairfax County Police Department in Virginia, where the “Dateline” investigation took place. She joins us now on the phone.
Now, Mary Ann, a lot of people across America saw this “Dateline” special, are seeing parts of the again. And they are wondering when these predators, these creeps can be brought to justice. Is there anything you can do tonight to make sure they are arrested and thrown in jail?
MARY ANN JENNINGS, FAIRFAX COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT: Unfortunately, no.
The reason is that, although the house was physically in Fairfax County, from what we have been able to determine from what we have gotten from Perverted Justice, the crimes did not occur in Fairfax County. The crime we charge is using a communications system, such as a computer, to solicit a child or someone that the person believes to be a child for sex.
That did not happen in Fairfax County. The operation was done at Perverted Justice headquarters, which is out of the state of Virginia. And most of the men you see on camera are not Virginians. And the couple that are Virginians, we don‘t have what we need, what...
SCARBOROUGH: All right. But, Mary Ann, obviously, a lot of people are saying that if you all can‘t take care of this problem with all of these people—again, these are just the dregs of society. And, obviously, they‘re going to go out and violate little children if they aren‘t arrested. If you all can‘t do it, then, legally, who can?
JENNINGS: Well, let me tell just you, we‘re making two arrests today on similar operations. We are doing this.
But we‘re not able to do—to make the arrests on the Perverted Justice cases or the ones shown on “Dateline” because we don‘t have enough to build a solid case that rises to the legal standard to file charges, criminal charges, and to prosecute.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Mary Ann, thank you for being with us. I‘m sure everybody is doing the best they can in Fairfax County. But, if I were living there and I had children living in Fairfax County, and I knew that these predators were on the loose, I would be extraordinarily angry at the state of our laws.
I want to bring in our panel right now.
And, Lynn, it‘s unbelievable. I have never seen anything like this before. Can you believe that these guys can‘t even be arrested, when you have this one predator takes all of his clothes off, brings a beer in, thinks he‘s having sex with an underage child, and then goes after him again the next day at McDonald‘s?
LYNN KELLER, PRODUCER, “DATELINE NBC”: What she‘s talking about is in the state of Virginia. Now, whether or not this can be prosecuted on a federal level is a whole different question. And perhaps Perverted Justice will send their information now to the feds.
SCARBOROUGH: And, obviously, let me just apologize, first of all, because we didn‘t bring you on as a lawyer. We brought you on as a producer. You produced this remarkable hour of television. Tell us about the naked guy, that—how did you set that up?
You get him to take his clothes off, come in, try to violate a child, and then go after him the next day. What was the genesis of that?
KELLER: Well, first of all, with the—the request for him to come in naked, first, we asked—the Perverted Justice volunteer asked him to come in, in his underwear. He said, well, I don‘t wear underwear. And he said, well, then come in naked.
And, so, we quickly scrambled to put another camera in the garage just in case. But we really—we never really believed that he would do it. It seemed so outrageous. And then, after he was confronted, he was totally humiliated.
I mean, just—it was pathetic. And then, the very next day, we come back in to do our final day. And the Perverted Justice people say, you are not going to believe this. This guy is back online again. He‘s using the same screen name. And so we just thought, well, let‘s just throw out a wild request and see if he will meet us at a McDonald‘s that is 20 minutes away. And, within 20 minutes, there he was, saying, sure, I will meet you.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, obviously, you knew when you teamed up with Perverted Justice—again, for those that are watching right now that don‘t know, this is a group that goes online. They pose as teens seeking sex from adults. You had to know that you were going to catch some people in the act of trying to solicit sex from young children.
But were you surprised yourself, at the end of this investigation, just how widespread and just how dangerous this epidemic was?
KELLER: Well, we had worked with them before last year. And we had, in 2.5 days, 18 men show up at the house.
But this particular investigation, what was surprising was who showed up, that these were people that were clearly respected members of the community.
SCARBOROUGH: Rabbis, teachers, I mean, the list goes on and on.
KELLER: Doctor, yes.
SCARBOROUGH: Doctor, yes.
KELLER: Yes, people who worked for the Department of Defense. It was just very...
KELLER: Yes. It was frightening.
SCARBOROUGH: Andy, I have got three children. The million-dollar question, we have asked it before. Unfortunately, I‘m more frightened today than I ever have been for their safety and well being. How do we protect our children from rabbis, or from priests, from teachers, the very people who are paid money day in and day out to protect our children? It appears they are the ones that are violating them.
ANDY KAHAN, HOUSTON CRIME VICTIM ASSISTANCE PROGRAM: You know, Joe, this “Dateline” special should be a wakeup call for all parents throughout the country that sex offenders, sex predators, are using modern technology, i.e., the computer, as their weapon of choice, as compared to years ago when they trolled in a playground and in a schoolyard.
You have got unsupervised access. And, parents, big red flags need to go out to you. Most parents tell their children, stay away from weapons. We make sure they don‘t have access to weapons. The computer is now the weapon of choice. You need to get a handle on what your children are doing. You need to have the computer in a central location, where you can monitor children‘s access, teenagers, particularly older teenagers.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, you know, and, Andy, we have heard this—again, time and time again, we have had advocates come on talking how parents need to have a computer in a centralized location. They need to do their best to screen what sites their children go to.
Unfortunately, a lot of parents aren‘t still answering that wakeup call. And that‘s what we are having the problem.
So, let me bring in Pat Brown.
Pat, you actually done this before. You have gone into these online chat rooms. You have posed as a teenager. Were you shocked by what you saw on this “Dateline” special? It seems to me, again, this is taking it to a whole new level.
PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Actually, Joe, I wasn‘t shocked myself, because I have been there, done that, and seen how quickly you can get involved in one of these situations and how many of the predators will jump for the opportunity.
So, I really praise “Dateline” and Lynn for doing this. We need to show in a real way—and this is a marvelous way you can actually see it, exactly how this thing works and how many of these guys are out there.
SCARBOROUGH: Pat, you are very blunt. You are very blunt. I‘m sorry to interrupt you. You are very blunt.
SCARBOROUGH: I want you to right now to send a wakeup call out to parents who think it‘s OK to put computers in their 10- or 11-year-old daughter‘s rooms or son‘s rooms and don‘t supervise them, because they‘re too busy to look over their shoulders. Tell them what they are throwing their children in the middle of.
Our children—let‘s face it, guys. One of the reasons we don‘t let our children stay home alone sometimes or go in the kitchen and cook is because we think they are stupid. We think they are so stupid that they can‘t turn off the flame on the stove. And we are worried they will burn the house down.
We‘re worried about lots of things. And then we think our kids are smart enough to note when they are being chased after by a predator, that they are going to be smart enough to turn down friendship—“friendship” with quotes on it—that they‘re going to be smart enough not to fall for thing. They‘re not.
Children are children. We‘re supposed to be their parents and we are supposed to watch them and train them until they are adults. Leaving them alone on your computer, unattended, going into chat rooms, you are setting your children up for this. And you‘re, in a sense, part of an accessory to a crime.
So, if you really care about your children, don‘t allow them to go there. These guys are out there in droves.
SCARBOROUGH: Lynn, let me talk again about, again, how remarkable this special was.
We got an unbelievable response through the Internet, through phone calls, word of mouth just by running a couple minutes of your clip last night. Talk about what type of reaction you have gotten since this has aired.
KELLER: Well, “Dateline” has received hundreds and hundreds of e-mails, predominantly from parents, saying thank you. We—this was an opportunity for me to have a discussion with my child that I never even really thought about doing before.
Tremendous kudos from even law enforcement, who might say, we don‘t necessarily agree with vigilante organizations doing this kind of work, but the media attention is so necessary. And there were a few people who were concerned about using—working with a vigilante type organization, but it was a very, very small number of people—just so many people so grateful, which is unusual.
KELLER: To have that many people be so happy.
SCARBOROUGH: It usually is unusual.
SCARBOROUGH: Usually, when you go out and do a sting, people come after you and say, why did you do this? You news people are all the same, always focusing on the negative.
In this case, really, what a public service, because, again, so many people have been talking about this issue for so long, and yet you all, again, with one special, with one sting, gosh, it‘s a wakeup call for America.
KELLER: People are also curious about how we were able to do it
legally. And Virginia happens to be a two-party state, which means it‘s a
actually—I‘m sorry—it‘s a one-party state. So, only one person has to know that they are being recorded.
KELLER: So, that‘s why we were able to do that and run the cameras and let everybody see who showed up.
SCARBOROUGH: And I will remember that next time I‘m in Virginia.
Thanks for being with us. Greatly appreciate it.
Thank you, Pat Brown.
And thank you, Andy Kahan.
SCARBOROUGH: Coming up, don‘t let falling prices at the pump fool you. It‘s going to be a long, cold, expensive winter. And Congress is demanding prices from the big oil companies tomorrow.
Coming up next, we are going to get a preview—that and much more when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: More trouble for the NFL cheerleaders, caught in an embarrassing, sleazy sex scandal. We are going to show you the very latest in this bizarre story later on in the show.
But, First, here‘s the latest news you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: Natalee Holloway‘s mother calls for a boycott of Aruba. And we are going to be talking to Alabama Bob Riley, who joined in on that call, in just a minute.
And the ultimate watercooler story. We are going to get the latest on the Carolina Panthers cheerleaders. They were caught in a compromising position, embarrassing for themselves, their families, and the NFL. Also not helpful that they spent a night in jail.
Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Those stories in just minutes, but, first, beloved high school teacher and former beauty queen Tara Grinstead was last heard from on the night of October 22. After more than two weeks of searching, using cadaver and helicopters, sadly, there is still no sign of the missing 30-year-old.
I‘m joined right now by her friend Osjha Anderson.
Thank you so much for being with us, Ms. Anderson.
Talk about your friend Tara. What type of person did you grow up knowing? Who is she?
OSJHA ANDERSON, FRIEND OF TARA GRINSTEAD: I actually met Tara about 10 years ago. We were competing in local preliminaries, trying to get to Miss Georgia to compete at the state level, which was the preliminary to Miss America.
And we actually shared the same platform 10 years ago at that time. And she left a note in a box behind stage saying, let‘s get together and share notes on that platform. And we got in touch and have stayed friends ever since. And she is a just a wonderful person. She‘s a beautiful person and a wonderful friend.
SCARBOROUGH: When is the last time you talked to her?
ANDERSON: Last time I actually spoke with her was probably in late September.
She came to Atlanta to stay with me in late July, I started a new job in early October, and so we had hadn‘t really spoken at length since that time.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. And there—there are a lot of different stories circulating around there about ex-boyfriends and other possibilities. What‘s the latest that you have heard on the case?
ANDERSON: You know, I—anything official, I certainly don‘t have any information about. I was interviewed the next day after the—after she was discovered missing by the GBI. And that is all the contact I have had.
So, anything official, I really don‘t have any information. And it‘s my understanding that there has been very few new developments since they first discovered that she was missing.
SCARBOROUGH: Do you know how her family and friends are doing tonight?
ANDERSON: I can only imagine what they are feeling right now. I have never experienced anything like this. I never thought that I would, particularly with it being Tara, with her coming from such a small town. It‘s just—it‘s very disturbing and stunning that this would happen to such a wonderful person.
I have spoken with her mother and sister, and I know that they are in horrible pain right now and very worried and miss their daughter and sister.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Obviously, though, you and other people in the community are getting behind her and also behind her family. Talk about that type of support that‘s going on right now.
ANDERSON: There has been an incredible support by her little town. I think it‘s like 3,000 people in Ocilla, Georgia. And the neighboring town. She grew up in Hawkinsville, Georgia.
So, that whole area has really rallied together. They have had hundreds come out for search parties. There is a Web site that‘s dedicated to finding her. It‘s an unbelievable effort that people in that area, and really all over, have contributed to try to get the word out, so that we can get as much information and hopefully find her as soon as possible.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, thank you, Osjha Anderson. Greatly appreciate you being with us. And good luck and God bless.
ANDERSON: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: Tonight, our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY campaign against out-of-control oil prices continues. And the focus is right now on five powerful oil campaigns being called to Capitol Hill tomorrow for what promises to be a grilling on how they could be raking in record profits while Americans live in fear of their first home heating bill and also their next trip to the gas station.
Here to talk about it is one of senators on the Senate Energy Committee, Democratic Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado.
Senator, thank you so much for being with us.
And this is just one of those issues that really resonates with Americans. They don‘t understand why they‘re paying more at the pump than ever before and why oil companies are making a bigger profit than ever before. Of course, $9 billion this quarter for one oil company.
What‘s happening out there?
SEN. KEN SALAZAR (D), COLORADO: You know, that‘s just incredulous to me that the big oil companies are making these huge profits while all of America is hurting from the farmland to consumers in the cities. We see more pain at the pump than we ever have before.
What we‘re going to do tomorrow in the Energy Committee, with about 30 to 40 senators attending, is try to get to the root of the problem. One of the things that‘s happening, I believe, is that there is price gouging that is going on and that we don‘t have effective national or state laws to deal with price gouging.
When you have companies that are making profits of over 100 percent from where they were a year ago, something has gone awry. And I believe that what we need to do is have a price gouging law. I think the people of America deserve better than what we‘re getting today.
And I think part of it is just making sure that these big oil companies are being held accountable.
SCARBOROUGH: I certainly agree with you. I mean, let me show you, Senator, how much money oil companies are making in profits. Exxon Mobil leads the pack with $9.9 billion in the third quarter, up 75 percent over last year.
Next is Shell Oil, with profits of $9 billion. Then have you‘ve got BP America coming in at $6.5 billion in just the third quarter. Chevron jumped 12 percent or $3.6 billion, and ConocoPhillips with a whopping 89 percent increase over last year.
Now, Senator, I know you. A lot of people consider to you be a conservative Democrat. You certainly, if you know anything about me, you know I like profits. I want companies to make a lot of money.
But in this case, there doesn‘t seem to be any market justification for it. And every time I ask oil executives what‘s going on, they blame it on refinery costs or something else.
It really does something smell like price gouging to you and a lot of other senators, doesn‘t it?
SALAZAR: You know, Joe, you were here on Capitol Hill, so you know the history of how some of these things go. And people can sometimes make a statement that company‘s profits are way out of whack, but the fact is that, when you look at what was happening in August in the days before Katrina made landfall and what‘s happened since then, it seems to me that the enormity of these companies taking on this kind of a profit is unconscionable.
And I think that the people of America deserve to know what is driving these costs on the part of big oil.
Long-term, I think we can develop some strategies to get to energy independence, and I think that a goal is an imperative for the American people.
But we have a short-term problem here today, with the high cost of heating oil, astronomical diesel and gas costs for everyone who is driving around America, so I hope that tomorrow‘s hearing gets us some answers as to why these companies are getting these astronomical prices and also, then, that we as a Senate and as a Congress can take some action to try to provide some kind of relief to the consumers who are being so affected by them.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Senator, what scares me is you‘re right, I did serve in Congress and I know how powerful these oil companies are. I mean, they wrote me campaign checks—of course, after I got elected. When I was a challenger, nobody would write me a check.
But they wrote me checks. I haven‘t seen your FEC report. I‘m sure they have written you and everybody else checks.
But unfortunately, there aren‘t enough people like you that step forward and stand up not only to these companies, but also to other massive corporations.
Do you think—and this is what scares me the most—do you think tomorrow there are going to be enough senators on both side of the aisle that are going to stand up and have the guts to give the rest of us the answers we need to know about price gouging?
SALAZAR: Yes, I think there will be. There is a great sense among the Democratic members of the Energy Committee that we really need to have some answers short-term—because this is a problem for us this winter, it‘s a problem for us this month, not 10 years on down the road.
And I‘ve heard similar comments from well-meaning members of the Republican Party as well, that these profits that are the highest profits that we‘ve seen in history for the oil companies are inexplicable and that we need to get answers as to why they have these high profits and figure out how we can bring some relief to the American people.
We should be fighting for the American people. That‘s what the American people deserve.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Senator, these prices are inexplicable if you look just at market forces that surrounded, like you said, the days in August and even before and into September, and these prices exploding.
Now earlier today, our sister network, CNBC, caught up with Exxon Mobil Chairman Lee Raymond on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. And Raymond defended his company‘s huge profits.
Take a look:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE RAYMOND, CHAIRMAN, EXXON MOBIL: We have ups and downs. Back in 1998, when prices were below $10, our earnings were very low. Now we‘re at the top of the cycle, they‘re high.
But the way we manage the company is both through the highs and the lows.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Senator, again, I‘m sure we agree on this point, too. We both love free enterprise, we understand that stocks go up, stocks go down, earnings go up, earnings go down.
But do you buy that argument that all of this just has to do with free market fluctuations?
SALAZAR: I do not. You know, I believe in the free enterprise system. I pride myself as being a pro-business Democrat. But I think when you see humongous profits, it ought to send off alarm bells on the part of all of us in America about these kinds of profits going to these oil companies.
Sure, they control the natural gas that‘s coming into our homes and the price of fuel that we‘re putting into our vehicles or the price of fuel we‘re putting into our tractors on the farms, but at the end of the day, while the rest of America suffers so deeply, they are having these companies making these astronomical profits.
And I think here‘s an inequity there. I think it‘s unconscionable. And I hope that we as the United States Senate tomorrow take some action as we move forward on price gouging statutes that have been introduced by my colleagues.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Senator Ken Salazar, good luck tomorrow. We‘re certainly going to he following it. And thank you for standing up for Americans, not only in your home state of Colorado, but across America.
SALAZAR: Thank you very much, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And, friends, I can‘t underline this fact enough.
You can look at my congressional voting record. I cast thousands and thousands of votes on the floor of the House of Representatives. And, when I was in Congress, I was considered to be a pro-business congressman. I believe in lower taxes. I believe in less regulations. I believe, you know, like the Alan Alda had to say in “The West Wing” this weekend—he‘s running as the Republican—he says, politicians don‘t create jobs. Businesses create jobs.
I believe in Adam Hand, the invisible hand. I believe, again, the best social program is a job. And those jobs come from corporations. So, I‘m not your usual Michael Moore, anti-corporate hack. Because I love the free-market system, it concerns me when I see Americans getting hammered at the pump, and it concerns me when I see oil profits exploding through the roofs, when there are no outside influences that justify it.
And, once again, friends, I invite any oil company executive to come on the show and talk with me. I‘m very polite. Everybody will tell you, I am always polite to everybody on this show. Come on the show and explain to me why you‘re getting record profits when we‘re getting hammered so badly at the pump and when the poorest Americans are going to be suffering from the high cost of home heating fuel coming this up winter.
Now, straight ahead, we are going to move on, the governor of Alabama is saying enough is enough. Governor Bob Riley is raising the stakes, calling for a boycott of Aruba.
Also, caught in a compromising position, new developments in the case of NFL cheerleaders busted.
That‘s coming up next on SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOB RILEY ®, ALABAMA: Today, both Beth and Jug are here to endorse a travel boycott to Aruba. And, as governor, I am joining them in this effort.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: The gloves have come off in the Natalee Holloway investigation.
Alabama Governor Bob Riley was joined by Beth and Jug Twitty today, as he called for a boycott of travel to Aruba.
The governor joins me now from Alabama.
Governor, God bless you.
You know, there are a lot of people in Manhattan, a lot of elites in Manhattan and in L.A. that say, oh, gosh, Why are you people talking about Natalee Holloway? And, yet, when I returned home to the University of Alabama and people came up to me in the stadium, they said, we have got to get justice for this girl.
Why do—Alabama is so connected to her and a lot of people in America, they really feel like she is one of their own. Why do you think that is?
RILEY: Well, you know, Joe, I don‘t think there‘s anyone in the United States that hasn‘t been following this for the last few months.
And I think we‘re bordering on what is ridiculous right now. I mean, we have gone from one set of assumptions to another for the last five or six months. And then, as of last week, they basically come in and say there‘s not anything we can do about it in Aruba.
And that‘s just not good enough. This is an Alabama citizen. She went down there. This investigation, I believe, has been botched. I think the Aruban people, to a large extent, just want it to go away. And, as long as I‘m governor and as long as Beth and Jug ask to us do it, we‘re going to do everything we can to bring some justice and some finality to this.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Governor, you have been talking with the Twittys for some time and the Holloway family, and asking what you could do to help them out. And, actually, Beth and Jug have said from the very beginning, they are not interested in boycotts. They wanted to work with the government.
But I guess the situation has gotten so bad down there, they finally had no other option but to turn to you for help. So, what are you asking not only Alabama citizens, but Americans to do tonight?
RILEY: Well, one of the first things I‘m going to do is send a letter and then—to all of the other 49 governors, asking them to participate in this boycott. I hope they will.
When we have a National Governors Association conference, I want to—a resolution. And I plan on presenting a resolution asking all the governors to support us. You know, this—this has gotten to the point, Joe, if we don‘t do this—it‘s not that anyone wants a boycott, but we literally have no options, if you look at what happened in just the last few weeks.
There were people down there—and the only thing the Aruban government had to do is go and just call and ask for assistance. We couldn‘t even get that done. So, I think we have reached the point. No one wanted to do this. And if you look at what Beth and Jug have done over the last six months, when the legislature was attempting to ask for a boycott five months ago, they said, don‘t do it; let the system work.
Well, everyone has tried, and now we have run out of options. This is the only option left.
SCARBOROUGH: Governor, stay with us.
I want to bring in Jug Twitty right now.
Jug, what was the triggering event? When did you finally say, enough is enough; we‘re going to go ahead and do what people have been asking us to do for the past five months and call for a boycott of Aruba?
JUG TWITTY, STEPFATHER OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY: Well, I think, Joe, it was actually when Beth got the letter from the Aruban government saying that they really had no power, that it—you know, you had to go to The Hague to get something done.
And, for five or six months, we have been down there running around in circles, people lying to us, trying to get an answer. We have tried to do everything. And then, all our efforts that we tried to help with down there just were all for nothing, because we weren‘t going to the right people. So, I think that‘s when we decided to go this way.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, Jug, at the beginning of this, for the first couple months, we always had a banner up. When we had you or Beth or anybody else involved on this show, we would have a headline up that would ask the question “Caribbean Cover-up?” obviously with a question mark at the end of that headline, because we wanted to be fair.
Unfortunately, I think we have got to strip that question mark off.
This has been nothing but a Caribbean cover-up, hasn‘t it?
TWITTY: Well, in my opinion, it‘s a total cover-up.
And, of course, I said that in the meeting with the prosecutor early on. And she said absolutely no way. And, Mr. Twitty, you need to quit saying that. It‘s not a cover-up.
Well, in my eyes, it is. I have been there since the beginning. The boys were protected. The father was protected. And we basically gave them to them on a silver platter. And they had plenty of time to cover up several things, so I do think it‘s a cover-up. They have had three different investigators handling the situation. It‘s unbelievable.
And, Governor, I want to ask you, what should Americans do tonight? What should people in Alabama and across America tonight to follow your lead?
RILEY: Well, you know, the first thing that we believe down here is that people ought to keep this family in their prayers.
If you look at what they have gone through in the last six months, I mean, it has been an incredible ordeal. You know, I want to tell both of them, everyone in Alabama appreciates their tenacity. They haven‘t given up. They haven‘t given up on their daughter. And the people in Alabama are going to be fighting with them.
Past that, I think everyone needs to reconsider any travel arrangements to Aruba today. You know, ask yourself, if had you a daughter, would you want her to go on an island where you absolutely had no control over the outcome of an investigation or even a participant in the investigation? That‘s all that they have asked for all the way through, is, allow us at least the information, so we can make good judgments. That is...
RILEY: That hasn‘t happened.
SCARBOROUGH: It certainly hasn‘t.
Governor Bob Riley, God bless you for what you‘re doing.
Jug Twitty, thanks for being with us.
TWITTY: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: And know, again, our thoughts and prayers are going to be with you all.
And I‘ll tell you what. For those elites that don‘t understand why Americans are touched by this story, you just don‘t understand Middle America.
Coming up next, there‘s a scandal making headlines across the country involving the NFL. Now these cheerleaders are out of a job, but, already, they are getting other offers. What a big surprise. Ain‘t that America?
That‘s coming up when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: You‘re looking at two Carolina Panthers‘ cheerleaders. They allegedly had sex in a bathroom stall in a Florida bar on Sunday morning. Customers complained. They would. A fight followed. It would. And police arrested the two. Now the Carolina Panthers have fired them for breach of an ethics code.
Boy, that must have been a tough call.
WCNC‘s Ann Sheridan brings us inside that Florida club for a look at what happened on that chaotic night.
ANN SHERIDAN, WCNC REPORTER (voice-over): Banana Joe‘s Web site shows just how hot it can get inside that Tampa bar. But now a nationally known men‘s magazine wants to cash in on what allegedly went inside the bar‘s bathroom stall.
Those Panther cheerleaders are accused of having sex with each other and starting a fight. The Panthers organization isn‘t saying much. But their Web site is down, millions of hits from fans trying to learn more about the cheerleader scandal. It all happened Saturday night, before the game in Tampa.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A few girls that were in line behind us were getting extremely angry because there was two girls in one bathroom.
SHERIDAN: According to the police report, the two girls were Panther cheerleaders Renee Thomas and Angela Keathley. The witnesses claim the women were having sex in a stall. Others waiting got mad, and a fight broke out.
MELISSA HOLDEN, WITNESS: And she is screaming, let me go. I‘m a Panther cheerleader. I‘m not going to get arrested for this. I‘m like, well, that‘s good for you, but you‘re going to jail.
SHERIDAN: Now the women are out of jail and being courted by “Penthouse” magazine. I talked to the magazine‘s rep. She told me, “Penthouse” plans to have an offer in writing tomorrow. But, so far, no offer of apology.
SCARBOROUGH: What a great example to young girls across America.
And, of course, the lesson is, if you are going to have a sex in a bathroom stall with another woman, don‘t punch people who walk in and catch you. I think there are other lessons than that, too—absolutely disgusting story.
We will be right back in a second.
SCARBOROUGH: Big oil hearings tomorrow on Capitol Hill. We will be there. That‘s all the time we have, though, for tonight.
Stay tuned, because “HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS” starts right now.
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